|NYR||2||1||2||(0 - 0)||5|
|NYI||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers regained their offensive touch on Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum, overwhelming the Islanders 5-2 behind Ryan Callahan’s career-high four points.
The victory snapped a five-game winless streak for the Rangers, and evened their home-and-home set with the Islanders after the Isles had skated to a 2-1 win on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I thought everybody contributed,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who scratched veterans Ales Kotalik and Wade Redden in favor of Erik Christensen and rookie Bobby Sanguinetti. “The key thing is you don’t have to play a perfect game when you score a few goals, and tonight we did.”
Callahan scored two goals for the fifth time in his career and also added a pair of assists. Marian Gaborik contributed three points, including his league-leading 24th goal, while Vinny Prospal and Michal Rozsival each had two assists.
The offensive outburst was the Rangers’ largest since they scored seven goals in a 7-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 23 at The Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist turned in a gem between the pipes for the Rangers, steadying his team early on and finishing with 35 saves.
“I don’t know if it is a relief, but I know it’s been too long since we had a win,” said Lundqvist. “But here we are, we got it. And hopefully we can build from this.”
The start to Thursday’s game was eerily similar to that of Wednesday’s as the Islanders outshot the Rangers by a large margin and pinned the visitors in their own end with a ferocious forecheck.
The difference on Thursday was that Lundqvist was simply terrific and refused to be beaten by the Isles while his teammates found their collective legs. And the Rangers also were able to drive to the net later in the period to score not just one, but two, goals before the first period was completed.
Callahan opened the scoring at 13:06 of the first, converting a pass into the crease by Gaborik. The power-play goal was scored on only the Rangers’ second shot of the night. At that point the Rangers were being outshot 12-2 by their hosts.
Nearly five minutes later, Chris Drury scored to give the Rangers a 2-0 advantage. Sean Avery drove a shot on goal off a Rangers rush, and Drury hammered the rebound behind Dwayne Roloson for his third goal of the season, and first in 20 games, with 2:04 remaining in the opening period.
“It’s always nice to score and to chip in,” said Drury. “At the time it put us up 2-0, and playing with the lead is different. We just wanted to keep going.”
With two goals on just four shots, the Rangers had managed to do something they had not accomplished since the first period of last Saturday’s tilt against the Buffalo Sabres: score more than one goal in a single period.
The Rangers found the back of the net again, this time just 27 seconds into the second period, to grab a commanding 3-0 lead. Callahan powered to the net and shoved the puck between Roloson’s pads for his second goal of the night, and ninth of the season, as the Rangers netted their second power play tally of the contest.
“I think that was one of the keys, getting pucks to the net and driving to the net,” said Callahan, who has four goals in his last four games. “It’s nice to see some payoff in dirty goals to help get us over this hump here in getting the puck in the net. That’s what we needed.”
It was the third time in the last four games that the Rangers had scored multiple power-play goals.
The three-goal lead owed much to Callahan, Gaborik, the power play, and the Rangers’ willingness to drive hard to the net and score the “dirty” goals. However, Lundqvist’s sensational play cannot be overlooked, for without his brilliance, the Rangers easily could have been trailing instead of skating out to the lead.
“Hank was the key guy for us,” said Tortorella. “Hank made some key saves at some key times.”
Just 90 seconds into the contest, Lundqvist showed he was on top of his game by stoning Josh Bailey from five feet out. Two minutes, later he delivered an incredible one-two punch, robbing first Matt Moulson and then Rob Schremp on the doorstep during an Islanders’ power play.
Four minutes into the game, Lundqvist had made eight saves already. By the time Christopher Higgins recorded the Rangers first shot at 7:51 of the first, Lundqvist was up to nine saves.
“They came out flying,” Lundqvist said. “They’ve done that every time since I’ve been here five years ago. You just have to stand tall there. There’s no way they can play like that for 60 minutes, the game will change. I was ready for it.”
In the second period, Lundqvist retained his focus despite the rare three-goal lead. During an Islanders’ power play 4:50 into the period, Lundqvist flat-out robbed Trent Hunter twice from the top of the crease, the second time with a desperate flail of his blocker which deflected the puck high over the crossbar.
Even in the midst of a brilliant night, all was not perfect for Lundqvist. At the 8:51 mark of the second, he charged out of his crease to race after a loose puck in the left circle as Nate Thompson of the Islanders threatened a shorthanded break. Lundqvist stumbled and fell awkwardly, giving Thompson a wide-open net to shoot at. Thompson, though, missed the gimme goal and Lundqvist was able to shake off the embarrassing moment.
“I jumped out and I think I hit his skate,” said Lundqvist. “You could see his leg went that way. So in my opinion that’s my save!”
Less than a minute later, however, the Islanders did strike to pull within 3-1. Skating 4-on-4, the Islanders finally solved Lundqvist as defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored his first NHL goal on a left-wing shot that beat Lundqvist to the glove side.
Undaunted, Lundqvist finished the period in strong fashion. He splayed on the ice to deny Hunter with 1:25 to go; smothered a John Tavares blast with 30.5 seconds left; and made a sliding pad save on Kyle Okposo as the second period buzzer sounded.
Gaborik and Artem Anisimov put the game away for the visitors by scoring goals within the first seven minutes of the third period. Gaborik notched a power play goal during a 5-on-3 man advantage at 3:37, and Anisimov powered to the net to beat Roloson for his sixth of the season at 6:50.
“I thought we played with the lead pretty well,” said Callahan. “We didn’t have too many turnovers and we were getting the puck in deep. I thought we played with the lead well, and Hank came up with some key saves at key times.”
The Rangers were 3-for-6 on the power play Thursday night, and killed all seven Islanders’ power plays, for a truly special evening of special teams play.
There’s not much time to savor this victory, as the Rangers return to action on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia against the Flyers. That contest is followed by another road game, this one in Carolina against the Hurricanes on Monday night.
|PPG - Ryan Callahan (8) Snap shot - ASST: Marian Gaborik (20), Vinny Prospal (22)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Chris Drury (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Sean Avery (9), Michal Rozsival (7)|
2 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Ryan Callahan (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Marian Gaborik (21), Michal Rozsival (8)|
3 - 0 NYR
|Andrew MacDonald (1) Slapshot - ASST: Mark Streit (14), Frans Nielsen (8)|
3 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (24) Slapshot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (23), Ryan Callahan (6)|
4 - 1 NYR
|Artem Anisimov (6) Wrist shot - ASST: Ryan Callahan (7), Dan Girardi (7)|
5 - 1 NYR
|Frans Nielsen (5) Tip-in - ASST: Andy Sutton (3), Blake Comeau (6)|
5 - 2 NYR
|Marc Staal Hi-sticking against Josh Bailey|
|Bobby Sanguinetti Holding against John Tavares|
|John Tavares Hi-sticking against Ryan Callahan|
|Mark Streit Holding against Erik Christensen|
|Vinny Prospal Too many men/ice - bench|
|Andy Sutton Tripping against Marian Gaborik|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Rob Schremp|
|Josh Bailey Too many men/ice - bench|
|Chris Higgins Tripping against Kyle Okposo|
|Blake Comeau Slashing against Erik Christensen|
|Marc Staal Slashing against Blake Comeau|
|Freddy Meyer Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Brendan Witt Roughing against Michael Del Zotto|
|Blake Comeau Roughing against Michal Rozsival|
|Frans Nielsen Roughing against Michael Del Zotto|
|Michael Del Zotto Roughing against Brendan Witt|
|Michal Rozsival Roughing against Brendan Witt|
|Enver Lisin Hi stick - double minor against Jon Sim|
|SA: 37||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 35||EV: 21 - 23|
|PIM: 0||PP: 14 - 14|
|SV%: .946||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 22||TOI: 59:55|
|Saves: 17||EV: 11 - 13|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 7|
|SV%: .773||SH: 2 - 2|